Today is the feast of Saint Philip and the man we call “St. James the Lesser” because he is probably not the Saint James that we know as a relative of Jesus and the traditional author of the book of James. Unfortunately, all that we know about this Saint James is that Jesus chose him as an apostle, and that Jesus appeared to him after his resurrection, as we hear at the end of today’s first reading. Saint Philip we know a bit more about. We hear of him in the Gospel story of the feeding of the multitudes because he is the one who tells Jesus “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” In today’s Gospel we see him again as an apostle who is slow to believe. “Show us the Father,” he says, “and that will be enough for us.”
So this, I think, is the feast for all disciples who don’t put themselves in the limelight. Maybe we too have been slow to believe, or were never really sure how to accomplish the mighty deeds God requires of us. Maybe we’re pretty unknown in discipleship circles. And maybe that’s good enough for us. Today’s feast says that’s okay. It says that our efforts of faith, small though they may be, make us great believers in God’s time and in God’s eyes, led to the Father, as we always are, by our Savior. It says that we might need a little convincing that we can do the work God asks us to do, but that filled with the Holy Spirit, all things can be accomplished. It says that we don’t have to be on the cover of the book to live our faith with conviction.
Today is the feast of apostles who are called to make God’s love known despite their imperfections or apparent lack of ability. It is a feast for all of us who know that we are called by God and led by the Spirit to do great things in Christ. To Philip and James and all the rest of the Apostles, Jesus said then, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” Jesus says that to us today, too, all of us disciples who are slow to believe and understand. “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do.”